When I was ninteen all I wanted to do was travel, to see the wide-open earth, the mountains and oceans and rivers that crawl across the continents.
Now I’m twenty-seven. I’m older and skinnier and my hair is darker. I am quieter and talk to fewer strangers. I own a big 120-year-old house that sighs in the wind like it holds a thousand murmuring ghosts, and I add my own ghosts to it, too.
And all I still want to do is travel.
Do you see this picture?
This is my yard, this morning, in summer, at 6:34 AM exactly. I do not see a backyard in hot, humid New Orleans. I do not see a grill with a big propane tank, modern plastic dials, a lighter leftover over from a birthday celebration.
I see a tangled jungle across oceans. I see fronds that blaze gold with the sun from another continent. I see trees that crumble from the rich rainforest air, and brambles that bloom with wild flowers.
You say you want to travel? Lose yourself in the jungles of other countries. Imagine skylines of foreign cities.
Begin like this: be elsewhere, all of the time.
In college, my professor told me to go through a short story I had written and highlight my favorite sentences.
I rushed through the prose, highlighting this description of splintering sun, that image of big nocturnal eyes.
Then she made me delete every single one of those sentences.
What was left was the skeleton of my story, the things that were necessary and true and there to support every single beautiful thing layered on top.
Do this with the things you own right now. Get rid of the stuff you like, keep the things you need. You will find all of that love you piled up on stuff will suddenly be free and floating and ready to land elsewhere.
Where will it go?
When you have little, you seek out experience.
When you surf, there is this moment as you’re poised belly-down on your board waiting to take off that you do not know if you will ride the wave or nose dive directly into its face.
That is the most frightening thing about surfing: not knowing if you will slice across the ocean, grinning and smiling and enjoying every second, or bite it, thrashed by the force of a crashing wave.
But still, you go.
So my advice? Quit what you are doing that you think is too important to walk away from. If you face plant you rise to the surface again because that is what we do, we are human, we have no choice, we are built to survive, to rise again to this glittering, dazzling surface.
But if you ride? Oh, you ride